Stop the inverted classroom before it’s too late

by KC Stanfield, Assistant Opinion Editor

There are different ways  for professors to teach students beyond the classical lectures. There are the traditional homework and reading assignments we are required to complete. However, these pale in comparison to interteaching sessions since no other method is as annoying, or a bigger waste of time and money.

For those of you who have been lucky enough not to take a class with interteaching sessions, allow me to explain. The professor simply assigns the students some form of assignment, such as reading or research, and during the next class students teach one another what they learned. Rinse and repeat until the semester ends.

If your professor randomizes who you’re stuck with for your interteaching session, and you get someone who doesn’t understand the material or didn’t bother to do it, you’re screwed. By then, the only way to catch up is doing his or her portion on your free time, which is twice the work (just in case math isn’t your favorite subject). I’m not comfortable leaving my academic future in the hands of someone else.

Interteaching sessions are becoming more popular because they produce results. Numerous studies indicate a student is more likely to retain material discussed in this format than by professor-led lectures. Of course, studies are based on averages, so there are people who struggle in interteaching classes. To be fair, an interteaching session isn’t so bad when it comes to breaking the monotony of long-aired lectures, but too many classes rely on them entirely.

The Achilles heel of this method is it depends on who you get to teach you. Every student is different, so everyone is going get a different quality of education for each particular assignment or reading. At least with lecture-based classes, anyone who actually goes to class receives the same lesson, whether it’s good or bad.

We don’t pay San Diego State thousands of dollars per semester to have other students teach us. It’s beyond lazy for professors to rely on interteaching. We pay the same amount — unless you’re only taking six units — so we should be taught in a uniform fashion.

Ironically enough, the more emphasis a professor places on interteaching sessions, the less useful they become. If students are so good at teaching each other, then what’s the point of even having a professor? A teacher’s aide could run an interteaching class, because they only have to grade and to moderate the class. If interteaching is so great, then SDSU should just follow in the footsteps of “Accepted” (yes, I did just reference an 8-year-old movie).

To be perfectly blunt, the whole purpose of interteaching classes is to guilt students into doing — and actually learning from — their work. Each and every one of us is more inclined to do our portion of the reading lest we receive glares so sharp you could use them to make shish kebobs. Unfortunately, the workload for interteaching sessions is often more difficult and lengthier than normal readings because you’re forced to take the teacher’s role and educate someone else.

The end result is becoming so bitter and discontent, you eventually resent the entire class, even if it’s actually interesting. Requiring students to do more tedious work than what we already do only damages our interest in the subject. We’re all busy people, so not making our lives more difficult would be appreciated.

Retaining the information presented to us is the students’ responsibility. Just as teaching is the professors’. We don’t need to be forced to learn by making our role more challenging. Lecturing has been an effective — albeit sometimes boring — method of teaching that has lasted centuries. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel because oftentimes, it just makes life more difficult than it needs to be.

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